2003 Silhouette New Car Test Drive
The Oldsmobile Silhouette is a luxurious minivan loaded with features. It comes standard with a powerful V6 engine. The Silhouette is so refined and handles so well that it is actually fun to hustle down a challenging road. Yet with its long wheelbase, it seats seven comfortably and comes with thoughtful and entertaining interior features that make trips with kids go easier.
Safety has been improved with new dual-stage air bags for the driver and front-seat passenger designed to detect the acceleration and severity of a crash and inflate the air bag appropriately to minimize risk of injure to those of smaller stature. Front side-impact air bags are standard.
All-wheel drive is available this year for the Silhouette, improving vehicle stability and driver control on slippery surfaces. The optional Versatrak all-wheel-drive system is packaged with four-wheel disc brakes and an independent rear suspension, all of which adds increases stability in all driving situations and weather conditions.
Also new for 2002 is a third-generation entertainment system, which features a DVD player with wireless remote. And more seating options this year let buyers choose the interior layout that best suits their needs.
Three trim levels are available: GL, GLS and Premiere.
All models come with a powerful V6 engine: a 185-horsepower 3.4-liter V6 attached to a four-speed automatic transmission. The engine sits in the usual sideways position, which allows maximum use of interior space. The firmer-riding Touring suspension with automatic load-leveling, once exclusive to the Premiere, is now standard on all Silhouettes.
This year, buyers can choose between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions. Versatrak all-wheel drive adds $2570 to the prices of GLS and Premiere models, but it also adds greatly to safety and stability on slippery surfaces (see description below).
The base GL model ($27,560) packs a long list of luxury equipment that most other minivans offer as options or not at all. It comes with cloth upholstery, reclining front bucket seats with a six-way power driver's seat with memory control, second-row captain's chairs and a 50/50 split fold-down third row. OnStar is standard. Anti-lock brakes are standard. Cruise control, power programmable door locks, cargo nets, power windows, and a rear window wiper/washer are just a few of the key features that are standard.
The GLS ($31,635) would be the top of the line if it wasn't for the Premiere Edition and its fancy entertainment system. For starters, it comes with leather seating surfaces and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls. Front dual-zone air conditioning and separate rear heating and air conditioning allow passengers to tailor their temperature; an air-filtration system cuts pollen and odors. GLS also gets an extended overhead console with a driver information center, a premium stereo system, wider tires, aluminum wheels, and traction control
The GLS is so well-equipped that there isn't much more for the flagship Premiere ($33,535) to add, beyond a well-integrated video entertainment system that is not available on the other models. Premiere also adds heated front seats (a boon for chilly mornings or lower back pain).
Options include third-row captain's chairs (a no-cost option), a gold trim package ($150), and a towing package ($195) that increases pulling capability from 2000 to 3500 pounds. Northerners will appreciate an optional engine block heater that adds a mere $35.